Montia Bouie, Xavier Raquan Evans, Johntae Kaalib Russel Killed in Party Bus, Truck Accident in York County, VA
York County, VA -- December 16, 2022, Montia Bouie, Xavier Evans, and Johntae Russel were killed and others were injured due to a party bus versus truck accident.
As investigations continue, more details surrounding the deadly wreck come to light. Initial reports said the accident occurred at around 1:30 a.m. along I-64 just outside of Williamsburg. It involved a party bus occupied by a group apparently returning from a trip to Richmond.
While traveling along the interstate, the party bus driver told officers he attempted to change lanes after seeing a tractor-trailer "approaching very fast." Other details, however, suggest the party bus merged into the path of the 18-wheeler, and the vehicles collided, causing the bus to overturn and eject several passengers.
Three of the bus passengers, identified as 19-year-old Montia Bouie, 25-year-old Xavier Evans, and 21-year-old Johntae Russel, died due to the crash. Others on the bus were taken to area hospitals, some with serious injuries.
Right now, there are allegations against both drivers involved in the crash. Against the bus driver, authorities say there is evidence the bus driver may have been on a suspended license at the time. Details in the news also claim the bus could only go approximately 40 MPH due to modifications going over the vehicle's weight limit. However, in more recent statements, the woman reported to own the bus, identified as Towanda Futrell, denies this. Futrell told news outlets that she and her family and friends were on the bus at the time of the crash, and she said, “I wouldn’t put them on it if I didn’t think it was safe.” Details about the bus driver's qualifications remain unclear. These allegations have yet to be officially confirmed or ruled out at this time.
For the truck driver's part, authorities allege that the driver may have falsified records regarding their hours of service, saying that the driver was "driving well outside" of the allowed hours of service. According to details in the news, that driver told police they did not see the bus prior to the collision, but authorities did not confirm if this was due to poor lighting on the bus or due to the truck driver's behavior.
Simply put, I am not here to take sides. The owner of the bus telling the public she wouldn't put her loved ones in a dangerous vehicle makes perfect sense to me, and I have no reason to doubt her claims. At the same time, it's important to understand where police got their initial beliefs surrounding the bus and its ability to safely operate on the highway. It could be there really were issues—perhaps even due to factors a business owner couldn't reasonably be aware of before something went wrong. However, it could also be that information got mixed up at the chaotic scene during the initial investigations and were misreported. It doesn't help there was a truck driver who may also be in hot water right now claiming that the bus wasn't clearly visible. Considering that driver has allegations of being dishonest about their hours of service, I can only wonder how honest their statements to investigators were.
At the end of the day, people lost their lives, and others are left to pick up the pieces. We in the public don't have a right to know anything more than what the families do, but the public does have a right to know if there are dangers on the road putting others at risk. My hope is authorities are working diligently behind the scenes to get answers for the families, clear the names of those who may have been wrongfully criticized, and to otherwise ensure there are appropriate consequences for those whose actions did ultimately lead to such a devastating crash.